Attorney General Frosh, MDE Secretary Grumbles Announce Filing of Suit Against Luke Paper Mill Owners Under Federal Hazardous Waste Law
Complaint Alleges Ongoing Violations of State and Federal Pollution Laws, Seeks Civil Penalties;
Previously Filed Claims Under State Law Would be Brought to Federal Case
BALTIMORE, MD (May 28, 2020) – Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles today announced the filing of a suit in federal court against the owners of the Luke Paper Mill for seepages into the North Branch Potomac River that threaten public health and the environment. A black substance that may include contaminants from caustic and corrosive “pulping liquor,” coal ash or other undiscovered sources continues to seep from a riverbank at the paper mill site and into the river. Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Office of the Attorney General filed a complaint under federal hazardous waste law seeking orders requiring the mill owners, Verso Luke LLC and its parent company, Verso Corporation, to stop the discharges and remediate any harm caused by them. The complaint also seeks orders requiring Verso to post signs warning of health risks and to pay civil penalties.
“Verso continues to contaminate the Potomac River with toxic pulping liquor. This is violative of Maryland’s environmental laws, devastating for water quality and harmful to fish and wildlife,” said Attorney General Frosh. “We are asking the court to force Verso to stop its discharges of pulping liquor, clean up its discharges, and provide the public with the required health notices.”
“Maryland is fighting in federal court for the health of our Potomac River and the vitality of our communities,” said Secretary Grumbles. “We will push to end the toxic pollution and accelerate the productive reuse of the former mill site.”